Men’s track and field wowed during the weekend of Saturday, Feb. 4, taking second at the Sykes and Sabbock Challenge Cup, with the women’s team placing seventh. One of the most impressive Retriever showings, however, came from junior James Oakley III who placed gold in the 200m dash with a near personal record of 21.59.
“It actually felt pretty great,” said Oakley on getting the gold in the competition. “It’s nice to see my hard work paying off,” he elaborated, before going on to thank his training partners on the team: Afees Abolurin, Brian Nelson, Kara Patrice, Amani Wallace and Erin Patrice. Oakley finished the thought up reflecting on how they push him to get as far as he has in his career.
For the Retrievers this season, the goal is to focus on practice and training and use that as the building block to elevate the team to success in meets. Oakley further elaborated on the team’s philosophy this season, and said, “Our coach always enforces that how you practice is how you perform in a meet, so if you practice badly you’re going to perform badly in the meet. As you can see this past weekend, it showed.”
For Oakley and the track and field squad, this success both at practice and at the recent meet will continue to inspire future performances. The practices since the meet have seen a rejuvenation in the team’s motivation. Oakley discussed this recent surge in and explained that, “A lot of the people have seen what they can do resulting from their practice and that has motivated them to perform better and train harder.
This gold medal came with further sentimental value for Oakley, as it was his first time winning a competition for the Retrievers. The first few years of his collegiate career were marred with injuries, so the goal for the La Plata native Retriever has been to stabilize his training and push himself further.
Oakley made sure to emphasize, however, that his main source of inspiration was his mother, who unfortunately passed away back in October. “I vowed to myself that I wasn’t going to give up. I was going to train harder and make her proud, because she supported me this far so I just wanted to make her proud,” Oakley opened up, in describing his motivation.
As track and field gets ready for the American East Championships on Feb. 24 and 25, they will surely find daily reminders in the value of hard work in reaching success. The team will surely continue to keep motivating each other in practice and continue to help each other overcome any adversity, whether it be injury or personal matters, as beautifully evidenced in the continued efforts of James Oakley III.